Painters District Council 2 opens $3.5 million training facility in Chesterfield

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ONE OF THE MANY CANVASSES on which Painter’s District Council 2 is training apprentices and upgrading skills of journey workers is a mock up of a residential home.

Building triples training space for more than 400 apprentices

St. Louis – Painters District Council 2 has opened a new $3.5 million training center.

Located on 10.5 acres at 18036 Eads Ave. in Chesterfield, Mo., the 75,000-square-foot training facility more than triples the school’s previous space and combines classes once spread among five buildings in St. Louis.

“We were spread among five buildings, yet we lacked good hands-on training space,” Tim Klotz, director of training for Painters District Council 2 said. “Even with the five buildings we did not have good training space to duplicate job conditions. We intend to grow our membership and grow our market share, and what is really key to that is training qualified people and providing a source of training new people in the industry.”

Klotz said the larger space accommodates up to 425 students – a 30 percent increase – and houses more innovative and hands-on programming.

A formal dedication is being planned for this fall.

Painters District Council 2 purchased the building from Findlay Industries in 2009, and remodeled its interior. Working on the project were Charles E. Bell Architects, Inc. as architect, and RPA Construction Services and J.W. Fuller Construction, LLC as general contractors.

 COUNTRY’S LEADING FACILITY

Designed to be the country’s leading training facility for the finishing trades, Klotz said the new training center will provide advanced skill development for residential and commercial painters, industrial painters, drywall finishers, paperhangers and glaziers.

“In 2004, we began planning an expansion of our program to elevate the skills and abilities of St. Louis’ finishing trades workforce to best meet future needs,” Klotz said. “Today, our school is raising the national industry standard for technique and safety training.”

FUNDED BY MEMBERS

The training center was funded by the 2,200 members of Painters District Council 2, the St. Louis Painting and Decorating Contractors of America/Finishing Contractors Association (PDCA/FCA), the Glaziers Local 513 and the Architectural Glass and Metal Association.

The facility includes six classrooms equipped with audio/visual systems, one blueprint room, bench work space for initial technique training, two mock residential/commercial structures for interior and exterior training, one mock steel structure for industrial training, one spray booth and one abrasive blast booth.

The mock structure for residential and commercial painters resembles a home, stands two stories tall and features 36 interior rooms with 8- and 12-foot ceilings, and varying window and door frame treatments. Its exterior is siding and exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS) with multiple cornice and shutter layouts. Drywall finishers train in a second two-story, 46-room structure with 8-foot ceilings and radius and splay work. After three rounds of practice on each surface, drywall is removed and replaced to create fresh practice space.

A two-story steel frame simulates industrial surface (interior and exterior) preparation and coatings application. Students spray on surface coatings and then use abrasive blasting to remove it. The structure also offers rigging and containment training.

Construction of some of the mock facilities was completed by apprentices and journeymen of other local construction unions, including the Glaziers Local 513, the Iron Workers Local 396, the Operating Engineers Local 513 and the Carpenters’ District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity.

“They used it as a lesson,” Klotz said. “All the other trades thought it was a great experience for their apprentices.”

A mock commercial storefront will be added in 2013 for glazier training, including glass and framing fabrication and installation, and more.

“One of St. Louis’ greatest assets is the skill and safety of our building trades workforce,” said Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) AFL-CIO. “That requires continuous investment in training by unions and their building partners. The painter’s new training facility is great example of our commitment to delivering the best value in skill and safety to the buyers of construction services.”

EXPANDING APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM

In conjunction with the new training center, Klotz said the apprenticeship program will increase from three years to four years, and include courses on safety, general painting, exteriors, drywall and wood finishing, wall coverings, abrasive blast, industrial coatings and decorative finishes.

“What really keeps the construction site union is skills,” Klotz said. “What keeps us there is the fact that we can get that job done correctly, keep on schedule and compete with the non-union competition price-wise.

“I’ve seen jobs come out where we’ve beat the non-union competition. The reason for that is better production rates with quality work and making sure that new hires are properly trained to keep that ratio going of quality work and production rates, industry certifications and safety certifications. That’s really the future. The better and faster and more reliable that we are, the more of the market share we’re going to continue to hold and gain.”

The new training center will also provide Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC) certifications and journeyman safety training, such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10- and 30-Hour, lead abatement and licensure, scaffold and more.

SERVING EASTERN MISSOURI

Founded in 1889, Painters District Council 2 represents men and women in Eastern Missouri who work in the finishing trades of residential, commercial and industrial painting, drywall finishing, glazing, floor covering, and sign and trade show/convention display.

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